International Women's Day: Nottinghamshire Police call on more women to join the force
If you are a woman and you want to join the police the only person standing in your way is you.
That’s the joint message from the most senior and one of the most junior female officers at Nottinghamshire Police on International Women’s Day.
New recruit PC Harminder Rai-Mottram sat down with Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Barber to discuss their very different experiences of joining the police service – in 2021 and 1988 respectively.
DCC Barber joined South Yorkshire Police as a WPC in 1988 and was very much in the minority as she sought to make her mark in an environment dominated by men.
She said: “When I look back on how society was back then things were really very different. I was the only woman in a team of 40 and I wasn’t accepted on the shift until I’d locked my first person up or held my own in a fight.
"I was issued with a cape when I joined and couldn’t wear trousers other than for football matches – so you’d be trying to run after somebody and arrest them with your skirt wrapping around your legs.
“They also issued you with a handbag which did at least make a good weapon.
“When I look at where we’ve come and I look at the people joining today like Harminder, I think the world is your oyster.
"You can go where you want and the only person who will constrain you is you.”
DCC Barber joined Nottinghamshire Police in 2017 having served nearly 30 years at South Yorkshire.
She has served as the national lead for football policing and even travelled to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as the police commander overseeing the behaviour of all the England fans.
PC Rai-Mottram, meanwhile, became a police officer only a few weeks ago after eschewing a fast-paced and rewarding career in motorsport.
Having travelled the world and rubbed shoulders with world-famous drivers and celebrities, she decided she wanted to use some of the skills she’d learned to help her community.
She was recently accepted as part of the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship programme at the University of Derby and will juggle her studies with her front-line policing duties.
She said: “Some people with my cultural background may feel nervous about going into a role as a PC but there is a big part of me that wants to get rid of those issues.
"Being an Asian woman there were a lot of restrictions 20 years ago.
“I could not have gone into something like this from a family perspective – being exposed and working in a male dominated industry it may have been back then.
"But I really want people to trust the police force and I am also a big believer that if you throw yourself into things you will come out stronger.”
DCC Barber added: “Regardless of what your strengths are there is a place for everybody in the modern police force which I think is wonderful.
"The only barriers are in your head or imposed by family and community.
“So if you want to be a police officer and you are female then get in there and apply.
"You will be a great asset for the organisation.”